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kilowog [Film Festival 06.24.10] Israel movie trailer news drama

Year: 2009
Directors: Samuel Maoz
Writers: Samuel Maoz
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: kilowog
Rating: 5 out of 10

Far too often the major international film festivals choose to award artistically indulgent films with their highest accolades and proclamations; LEBANON is one of those films having won the Golden Lion at this past Venice Film Festival. Written and directed by Israeli filmmaker, Samuel Maoz, LEBANON is a tightly compacted 93 minutes and details the first 24 hours of the Israeli invasion of the neighboring country back in 1982. Set for all for but a few scenes within the confines of a cold steel tank, the crew manages to fill out your typical army platoon; the true soldier, the coward, the guy who quietly follows orders and the guy who probably should have, and this is one of the reasons why this film fails to resonate. Unlike THE HURT LOCKER there are no conversations of character and in turn, no one to inherently root for in this simplistic story of a squadron called upon to clear a hostile area.

The film starts and continues on as an experiment in filmmaking, moving consistently forward like a shark and much like the aquatic creature, never quite returning to the surface for a breath of air. However, this is once again where the film fails as it is neither fish nor foul. There is no high octane sensibility, nor are there self-indulgent twenty minute takes. Instead we are treated to the annoying rattling hum of the tank’s treads rolling over scorched earth and a set of oversized cross hairs that appear repeatedly if only to remind us that we are in fact in a tank and are constantly debating whether to shoot those persons within our line of sight. Quite simply, the filmmaker couldn’t decide on how best to portray his narrative.

Ari Folman’s WALTZ WITH BASHIR (2008) contributed another point of view to this war, a war that seems to continue to resonate within the Israeli community thirty years later, constantly blurring the lines between enemy and unfortunate civilian. BASHIR, which was nominated for an Oscar, proves to be the much more transparent of the two films. You see it and you know what Folman’s message is, witnessing the damage the war has caused both mentally and physically and how one can go to great lengths to hide the atrocities of battle whether we realize it or not. However, when you view Moaz’s film you wonder just what it is that he’s trying to say; and ultimately, you’re just not certain. Moaz himself was in the Israel-Lebanon war and you have to respect him as a solider for making it through and telling his tale, but it is not the most interesting one. War is often filled with explosions and gunfire, but it can also be tedious, being sent out on patrol and experiencing equal parts monotony and to a degree Moaz is hoping to convey this to us in a way that feels satisfying; the balance of war. Yet again, the implications of what the patrol is trying to achieve just feels shallow in a world filled with weak characters coupled with dialogue that is sparse as it is ineffectual.

Technically, the sound design and editing continues to fail us. Unlike the Bigelow Oscar winner, we never feel the resonance of the mortar rounds or snips of the bullets landing inches from our faces. To that effect, one expects that the intolerable confusion of battle to be something that one would most want to convey, but again, Moaz fails us by providing a slow methodical take instead of the quick cuts often applied and equally justified in movie battle sequences.

The film is not without its merits, and many audience members will appreciate comparisons to Wolfgang Petersen’s DAS BOOT, and perhaps that was Moaz’s intension all along. Though one piece of advice to the filmmaker, never take on a classic; you’ll most always fail in comparison.

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Mac (12 years ago) Reply

Is it perhaps this guy's story?

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